55 Gallon Tank Cycling a tank with used media

kinezumi89
Member
I'm thinking of starting up a 55-gallon tank. I currently have a 10-gallon tank, and although I had many fish as a kid, I've realized (with the help of this site) that I didn't start it up the right way (unfortunately, it seems I haven't done much the right way!).

Anyway, in order to cycle the new tank, rather than buy ammonia or put food in, I'd like to use parts of the current tank. I'll be moving three (fake) plants over, and I've read about people wringing out the filter into the new tank. Would that be sufficient? Should I do that, and put food in the tank as well?

If I set the tank up, it would probably be next weekend (a week from now). Last weekend (a week ago), I read that I should be rinsing out the filter, but unfortunately this source did not mention rinsing it out in aquarium water. So...I rinsed it in tapwater. Bad fish mom, I know. Then this weekend (yesterday) when I cleaned the tank, I rinsed off the plants and rocks, since there were some dark brown spots that I guess the pleco couldn't reach (the very tips of the plants are too flimsy to support him, I suppose). Also in tap water. Bad fish mom. This leads me to believe that I may not have a sufficient supply of bacteria in my tank/filter.

Point being, if I set up the tank next weekend (two weeks after rinsing the filter, and one week after rinsing the rocks/plants), would that be enough time for bacteria to build up such that it could help start the nitrogen cycle in the new tank? Currently my tank is unfortunately a little overstocked, and even with weekly 50% water changes and gravel vacuuming, it's pretty dirty when I clean it. I'm not sure if this would help the bacteria recover more quickly or not.

Thanks for any advice!
 
AlyeskaGirl
Member
How long has the 10 gallon been running? Do you have a test kit?

I would move everything over to the new tank. Are you doing a different substrate?
 
luke355027355027
Member
With an over stocked tank you will have a lot of bacteria. I don't think rinsing things with tap water is a good idea but if its only once or twice. It should upset your tank.

Can I get some more info on your filters what's in the 10 gallon what are you planning on filtering for the new tank.

Personally I would take the old filter media and put it in the new filter you get for the new tank and move all the fish at once over time your new filter will increase in bacteria and your could add 2 or 5 new fish evey week.

Like I said more info on your current filter and the filter your will be getting would be very helpful
 
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kinezumi89
Member
One of the reasons for setting up the new tank is A) I have a BN pleco and B) I have a male and female betta (I read on an apparently not reputable website that the bettas would be okay together). The pleco needs a bigger tank and the bettas need to be separated. I plan to put the pleco and the female betta in the bigger tank.

As for my current tank: I got the 10-gallon Top Fin tank starter kit for Christmas, so it's a Top Fin filter, but I'm not sure what model/size. The heater is also obviously Top Fin, and I have small gravel (larger than pea, but smaller than marble-sized), a few fake plants, a few rocks, and a small cave. Unfortunately I can't yet comment on the brands/models of equipment for the new tank because it's at my parents' house, and I'm not yet certain everything works anyway. I may be going to check what works tomorrow, if so I'll let you know. However my parents were very much into fishtanks back in the day, so I'm sure the sizes would be adequate.
 
snapper
Member
I tried to do this and it failed miserably. I ended up doing a fish-in cycle on the 55 gallon because there just wasn't enough bacteria from the 10 gallon for it to work like I thought it would. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
 
mtsguy21
Member
I would leave the male betta in the 10 gallon by itself. Move the female betta and bristlenose to the new tank. Rinsing the media in the new tank water will not start a cyle. What I would do is go to your lfs and buy some sponge media. Put this in the filter for the10g for a week or two. When you set up the 55g, move the spare media into the new filter. Leave the female betta and bristlenose in the 55 gallon by themselves for at least two weeks to make sure the cycle took. Test water daily. When you do add fish, only add a few at a time, allowing the bacteria to adjust to the new bioload. Once again, don't add more fish for two weeks, and test your water daily. I have used spare media to start all of my tanks except for the first two. Let us know if we can help you with your stock!
 
AlyeskaGirl
Member
Always can go the Tetra SafeStart route.

When I got my largest tank, everything went into that tank from the 55 gallon and everything went into the 55 from my 20 when I had that up. It was very successful.

Good luck.
 
Lexi03
Member
How long will it bebfore you are ready to start the 55gal? It would actually take a few weks to seed a new sponge in the 10gal. So here is what your options are:

1. If it will be 3 or 4 weeks until you set up the new tank, you could cram a extra piece of bio-media in the 10gal, let it seed for 3 or 4 weeks, then move the pleco and female betta with the old media to the 55gal with the old media. Leaving the male betta and new bio media in the 10gal.

2. Buy new bio media for the 10gal, cut the current media in half ( or more ideally 1/3 and 2/3 pieces) and place one piece in each tank.

3. Do as Alyeskagirl suggested and cycle one tank with Tetra Safe Start. If you go this I would move the current media to the 55gal and use the TSS in the 10gal, simply because it is a bit pricey, and the 10gal would use a smaller bottle.
 
Aquarist
Member
Good morning,

I have moved your thread from Freshwater Beginners to Aquarium Water/Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle section of the forum.

You can always locate your threads by clicking on My Threads in the blue bar close to the top of the screen.

Thanks!

Ken
 
Shawnie
Member
https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfi...-cycling-with-established-filter-media.66727/ this is a great read to help ....I also would go the TSS route if you can get it...as well, purchase some more fish for the 55 gallon at the same time if you get the TSS ...other than you plec, bettas aren't enough waste producers to have a good bacteria colony going to sustain a 55 gallon from a 10 gallon I don't think....goodluck!
 
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kinezumi89
Member
Shawnie: Thanks for the link! I found lots of information on other ways to cycle a new tank, but not a lot on using established media.

Ken: Sorry! I'm a newbie...

Lexi03: I know it takes awhile to cycle a new tank, but ideally I'd like it up and running as quickly as possible to separate the bettas. I'm taking daily pictures to make sure he doesn't get too aggressive (as of now, he just occasionally follows her around and flares his gills at her, but hasn't actually made any moves yet), but she seems stressed, and there's too many fish in there anyways. It sounds like using media from my current 10-gallon tank won't work. Unfortunately I can't cut the current media in half, as it's a pouch filled with carbon (it came with the tank). I've heard mixed reviews with the TSS...I've read many people who said it worked, and others who said they never got the proper test readings using it. I'll take a peek and see how much a bottle is, though.

chrisb4t: I think I like your idea the best, since it'll be a week before I'm able to set up the 55-gallon tank. I'm not exactly familiar with "sponge media" but hopefully it'll be clearly labeled at the LFS. (I thought I trusted them with advice, as they're not just a pet store, but specialize in fish, but they said as long as I upgraded in a few years, a pleco would be okay in a 10-gallon...)

snapper: Well I guess that settles it, then! Thanks for sharing your experience. I probably should have thought of the size differences, especially considering I probably (accidentally) wiped out a significant portion of the colony by rinsing the filter and rocks/plants.

Thanks for everyone's advice!
 
Lexi03
Member
Just wanted to point out, option one inmy post is the same as Chrisb4t's suggestion, I was correcting his time line, a week or two would not be long enough to seed the sponge, he got his wires crossed when he posted( he is my husband, he knows I corrected him) we cycled our first two tanks with TSS, all of the rest where cycled using a extra piece of sponge seeded for atleast 4 weeks (we got to setting up so many tanks, I now just keep a small piece of extra sponge in the filter of each tank, just in case I need it).

As for the carbon pouch, is this the only media your filter has? Carbon only last for about 4 weeks and then it needs to be replaced. That being said you don't have to use it, several members including myself do not. Others do, its a personal preferance thing. If you have no other media, then more than likely the bactiria is cononized on the pouch, not inside, you could remove the carbon and place the outer pouch inside a media bag along with some other form of biomedia to give more room for the bactieria to grow, but it doen't fix the timeline problem for now.
 
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kinezumi89
Member
That's hilarious! In that case, I like both of your ideas. Although, I'm not sure I have that long. I ended up moving the female betta. Even though the bowl is smaller and cooler (it actually fluctuates between 74 and 78, which isn't as bad, though the tank is at 80), I think she'll be less stressed since she's all alone. I posted some pictures in the betta forum (I think the catfish took a few bites) if you'd care to look.

Do you know what the fastest way to cycle a tank is? I'd like to move the pleco and the female betta as soon as possible (as soon as is safe, that is) since the pleco is a poop machine and the female betta is in a 1/2 gallon bowl.

Yes, the pouch is the only filter my tank has. It came with the tank, and there isn't really a slot for anything else (unless you just jam it in there). I was told that you never really replace it unless it's falling apart, but maybe I insinuated I have a different type of filter than I have. It's meshy (not a single layer though, sort of thick and cottony-looking...I'll post a picture later) with (what I'm assuming to be) carbon inside. From what I looked at online, they're pretty cheap, so I'll definitely pick up a pack if you think it's best.
 
Lexi03
Member
kinezumi89 said:
That's hilarious! In that case, I like both of your ideas. Although, I'm not sure I have that long. I ended up moving the female betta. Even though the bowl is smaller and cooler (it actually fluctuates between 74 and 78, which isn't as bad, though the tank is at 80), I think she'll be less stressed since she's all alone. I posted some pictures in the betta forum (I think the catfish took a few bites) if you'd care to look.

Do you know what the fastest way to cycle a tank is? I'd like to move the pleco and the female betta as soon as possible (as soon as is safe, that is) since the pleco is a poop machine and the female betta is in a 1/2 gallon bowl.

Yes, the pouch is the only filter my tank has. It came with the tank, and there isn't really a slot for anything else (unless you just jam it in there). I was told that you never really replace it unless it's falling apart, but maybe I insinuated I have a different type of filter than I have. It's meshy (not a single layer though, sort of thick and cottony-looking...I'll post a picture later) with (what I'm assuming to be) carbon inside. From what I looked at online, they're pretty cheap, so I'll definitely pick up a pack if you think it's best.
Ok, if that is all the media you have, if you choose to replace it, definatlly cut the pouch open and discard the carbon part, but keep the pouch itself. Normally, you would have 2 medias in a filter( this is all dependant on the manufacturer) one would be a bio media, where the bacteria is suposed to grow, this is the part that should never be replaced until it falls apart. Then there would be a carbon cartridge or pouch. This is the part that should be replaced if you choose to use it.( I have found no benifit to using it other then removing medications from the tank, so I choose not to use it, I have a jar of it in case of this but I do not use it otherwise) .

The main reason I do not use carbon is because I do not trust that there is no bacteria growing on the fuzzy outer part of the cartridge, and I do not want to risk throwing some out. On all of my filters that take carbon cartridges( exspecially those that only take this catridge and have no other media) I cut a slit in the netting, dumped out the carbon, and stuffed some sponge media or the little bio tubes for canister filters inside the cartridge, now they do not need to be replaced. if yours is a soft pouch you could probibly do the same thing, just tie a rubberband around the top to keep the stuff inside.

As far as the fastest method, being that you can't divide the media between the tanks( this method would be pretty much instant), The TSS would most likely be fastest, if you follow the directions exactly, it should cycle a tank in 10 to 14 days. There is a great thread about it here on fishlore, I will try to find it and post a link.

Edit: here it is https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/threads/q-a-with-tetra-about-tetra-safestart.58116/
 
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kinezumi89
Member
Thanks for posting the link! Though according to the email, you only need to wait 2 hours to add fish, and according to the blue text further down the page, you add the fish first and then the TSS, so the bacteria have ammonia to feed on. Are your experiences different? If I can follow the blue text, then I could move the fish as soon as the tank is set up. I will be moving some plants over from my current tank, so there will be some bacteria right away, but probably not enough to make a difference.
 
Lexi03
Member
kinezumi89 said:
Thanks for posting the link! Though according to the email, you only need to wait 2 hours to add fish, and according to the blue text further down the page, you add the fish first and then the TSS, so the bacteria have ammonia to feed on. Are your experiences different? If I can follow the blue text, then I could move the fish as soon as the tank is set up. I will be moving some plants over from my current tank, so there will be some bacteria right away, but probably not enough to make a difference.
When we did it we add the fish and safe start at the same time. You just don't want to add the TSS too far in advance, the bactieria would not have anything to feed on, and the product may fail. One the other hand if you add the fish to far ahead of the TSS, ammonia levels could spike, which can overwhelm the TSS and also cause it to fail.
 
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kinezumi89
Member
That makes sense. So it isn't harmful to pour the bottle in while the fish are already in the tank? I would be leery of pouring chemicals in a tank with fish, but it sounds like its just bacteria, and no chemicals...?
 
Lexi03
Member
kinezumi89 said:
That makes sense. So it isn't harmful to pour the bottle in while the fish are already in the tank? I would be leery of pouring chemicals in a tank with fish, but it sounds like its just bacteria, and no chemicals...?
I believe it probibly contains some stablizers and such to keep the bacteria alive as the bottle sits on the shelf, but nothing that would harm the fish to my knowledge.
 
Shawnie
Member
allot has been posted here and I am just wondering, are you putting just a pleco and a betta in the 55g? I went back to the OP to figure that out LOL...if so, its going to take some time to build a colony of bacteria even with TSS...I think allot will die off as the bioload for a 55 gallon with just a betta and a pleco, might starve the TSS bacteria ...it might take a couple weeks to even get an ammonia reading...unless your plec is a big boy....
 
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kinezumi89
Member
No, he's just about 2" or so. I hadn't thought about that, I was worried about overloading the tank. I was planning on just putting the female betta and pleco in the 55-gallon. Should I get a few other fish then?
 
Shawnie
Member
do you have a stocking plan for this 55g? because if so, and if you go with TSS, id go that route by stocking it with the TSS and more fish....if you are going to just put in your 2" plec and a betta, and stock gradually, its going to take some time for those 2 fish to build up any bacteria in a 55g...or ammonia to feed the TSS ...
 
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kinezumi89
Member
I currently do not have a plan for what I'll put in the tank besides the betta and the pleco. I tested all the equipment and everything works (hooray!) so we'll be able to go through wih it. I have questions about products I saw at the store, and plan to post pics and ask about them tomorrow.
 

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